Visitors to the Novium Museum are only donating around 23p each towards its upkeep.
The figures were shared with Chichester District Council’s cabinet as members were asked to approve a five-year business plan for the museum and tourist information centre.
In 2017/18, there were more than 49,000 visitors to the attraction, in Tower Street, who gave a total of £11,566.
With the 2018/19 budget for the museum and tourist information centre set at £896,000, it was acknowledged that the donations ‘didn’t make a huge dent’.
Visitor numbers are expected to rise to 53,000 in the coming financial year, so if each one dropped a pound into the donation box, that dent would be much larger.
But members were told the Novium was actually doing quite well compared to some – the average donation across the sector was between 5p and 15p.
Also added to the coffers was almost £39,000 spent by customers in the cafe and the shop.
There was certainly no problem with the museum’s popularity.
A report to the cabinet said that in 2017/18, 1,894 children from 35 schools took part in educational workshops, with 687 taking part in sleepovers.
Some 56 loan boxes were sent to 36 schools and 11 students were given work experience.
Volunteers put in 2,025 hours’ work and there were 150 entries to the annual writing competition.
On top of that, the museum’s learning programme brought in £19,725.
The business plan explored a number of ways of making improvements and bringing in more money.
They included plans to redesign the entrance, shop and cafe; an enhanced cafe or restaurant on the ground or top floor; and glazing over the Roman baths to increase floor space.
Roger Barrow (Con, Selsey South) said: “I think we can all be very proud of the progress the Novium has made in the last couple of years. It’s building a very good reputation.”
The museum used to charge an entry fee but, when this was dropped in 2014, the number of visitors increased.
Mr Barrow said he appreciated the reasons for dropping the charge but pointed out that the team at the nearby cathedral was ‘very proactive’ about encouraging donations.
He joked about how he had finally ‘surrendered’ some cash during his last visit due to the number of donation boxes dotted around.
Sarah Peyman, divisional manager for culture and sport, told him: “It’s a message we’re trying to give equally as strongly so that no one has a chance to escape before they give us their donation.”
Council leader Tony Dignum (Con, Chichester North) said: “Thanks to its excellent management, the Novium Museum has become a key part of our city’s culture, alongside the gallery, the theatre and the cathedral.
“It’s no secret that the current building has some physical limitations and there’s no reason why we should live with those forever.
“That’s why the business plan seeks to make some adjustments to the structure. The basic building will remain there but we hope to make some minor changes that will not be too expensive next year.”